The first true automobile was a machine that had three wheels and was powered by steam. It was built by Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot in 1769. It was heavy and moved very slowly. A disadvantage of steam was that water had to be brought to a boil before the car could go. During the late 1890s and early 1900s manufacturers produced cars run by electric motors. Electric cars did not run well at high speeds and had to have their batteries recharged every 80 kilometers.
In 1860 Etienne Lenoir developed a gasoline-powered internal-combustion engine and 16 years later the German Nikolaus Otto built an improved gasoline engine. In 1893 the brothers Charles E. and J. Frank Duryea built the first successful gasoline-powered car in the United States.